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The Oulipo and Modern Thought$
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Dennis Duncan

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198831631

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198831631.001.0001

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The Secret of Lightness

(p.1) Introduction
The Oulipo and Modern Thought

Dennis Duncan

Oxford University Press

The Introduction outlines the argument of the book, giving some examples of the Oulipo’s close ties with philosophy such as voting to invite Michel Foucault to one of their meetings, and a surprising anecdote about Jacques Lacan as a dinner guest. It also gives a flavour of what the group’s meetings are like – lively, clever, slightly chaotic – by quoting a passage from some early minutes. It then goes on to provide an account of the Oulipo’s formation and subsequent expansion in the 1960s and 1970s, and to introduce the group’s members. It considers their backgrounds, noting that the group was formed not merely of writers, but of mathematicians, academics, Pataphysicians, and philosophers. Several had been associated with the Surrealists; a number, too, had been involved in the underground publishing movement during the war. These biographies, I argue, are important: they demonstrate that the Oulipo was, from the start, connected to wider intellectual networks – not insular, but rather a workshop in which a multiplicity of voices with varying interests and experiences were brought to bear.

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